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Free SHS policy threatens private schools existence

The Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools (CHOPSS) has expressed worry over government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) policy that is expected to start later this year.

Public Relations Officer of CHOPSS, Naphtali Kyei Baffour, said the policy when implemented will put them out of business.

“It is an undeniable fact that the private sector is the engine of growth for development. Therefore any policy that seeks to collapse the activities of the private sector should be reconsidered. That is why we believe that inasmuch as the [Free SHS] policy is very good as it seeks the well-being and interests of students, parents, and Ghanaians as a whole, it is also imperative that as we sit, we look at factors that can help the private ones to be sustained,” he told Accra-based Citi FM.

He said because private schools are sustained by absorbing candidates who obtained low grades at the Junior High School level, and hence are unable to enter the secondary schools of their choice, the policy could present challenges in getting students to enroll in their schools.

“With the introduction of free SHS, we are yet to hear from the government if they are going to the old system where the cutoff point will be pegged at [aggregate] 30 or they will still operate with the existing one like aggregate 40, 42. If it still happens like that, then those who did not qualify for admission into public institutions that we relied on, now because it is free and they will still be qualified, it means that come two years, three years, four years, there will be no private school existing,” he laments.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government announced a fortnight ago that its flagship education policy would begin in the next academic year with an ambitious target to exempt students from the payment of admission, utility, examination and other allied fees.

Spelling out the details of the policy, President Nana Akufo-Addo said, “so that no one in Ghana is left in any doubts… there will be free textbooks, free boarding, and free meals, and day students will get a meal at school for free.”

Meanwhile, source of funding for the policy has not been expressly stated.

Although it was suggested by Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, that the Heritage Fund was a likely option to fund the policy, the government subsequently backed down on tapping into the Fund following public opposition to the suggestion.

There are reports that the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND) and petroleum revenues allocated to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) would be used to fund the policy.

-myjoyonline

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